The conservation of art is a significant concern for collectors and artists alike. With all the buzzwords such as “archival,” “alkaline,” and “acid-free,” you might be confused as to the suitable materials or what type of paper to use for your printing. We’ve compiled the following list of 6 items you need to know to help you understand this. About archival paper and archival prints.
1. Most papers are acid-free.
Although there is a lot of issue with obtaining acid-free papers for making artwork, the majority of papers available are acid-free today. Acidic papers were of great concern because the organic polymers, lignin found in paper, degraded as time passed, turning brown and hard. Factors like heat and light could contribute to this, speeding up the destruction of that paper. Now, thanks to modifications within the chemical composition of papers, most papers are acid-free. The papers we provide are acid-free.
2. Alkaline is a different word that means “base.”
There is a possibility that paper has been referred to as alkaline-free in addition to being acid-free. This means this paper’s pH is neutral. If it is at a 7-pH level, the paper is considered”basic” or “alkaline,” and if it falls below 7, it’s acidic.
3. Naturally acidic, the paper has a pH
Paper made of wood pulp contains a natural acidity. To preserve the paper longer, an alkaline reserve like calcium carbonate (chalk) is added during the process of making paper. This helps protect against the acidity of aging papers and acidity resulting from environmental pollution.
4. The term “archival” is a loose term for papers.
International standards exist for “archival paper” However, the standards pertain specifically to publications and documents; fine art is not included. Following ISO International Organization for Standardization (ISO),
“Archival paper is used primarily for publications and documents intended to be preserved for a long time due to their historical, legal or other important value. Archival paper is intended for particular reasons, not intended for general usage. The word “archival paper” doesn’t mean all documents kept in archives can be described as “archival documents.” “
While there’s no global standard, These are the main characteristics of archival papers for fine artwork:
- Free of artificial brighteners
- There is no wood-pulp
The archived fine art paper is made of 100 100% cotton pulp. Since cotton fibers are more extended than wood fibers, they’re more robust and durable over the long term.
5. Materials and the environment are equally important!
Alongside the paper, “archival” can also reference the materials employed and how artwork is stored. Anything that comes in contact with the paper may impact the paper. Here are some crucial points to be aware of:
- Qualitative of the Materials The quality of your oils, paints or other substances that are in contact with the paper may impact its longevity.
- Matting Mats that contain acid could harm artwork, just as acidic materials. Mats are sold similarly in acid-free and archival versions.
- Light direct sunlight can alter vibrant colors and make your paper brittle with time. Without adequate protection, even lighting from indoors can be harmful to artwork.
- Environmental: If your artwork is hung in an area that is in a humid or hot environment, it could cause damage or mold. Colder temperatures are ideal but not too cold that they can become rigid. Ideally, the humidity and temperature should stay the same so much that it stresses the material.
6. Archival could be used to describe framing.
Archival framing, also called conservation framing, refers to framing materials and methods that limit any external damage to the artwork. Some artists frame their work with cheap materials to move their artwork to the buyer and let the buyer think regarding the frame; however, your frame can be considered conservation-minded but not museum quality.
Archival framing can have several advantages:
- Its glass shields against Ultra-violet light (UV)
- All mats and mounting materials are acid-free or slightly alkaline.
- The framing can be reversed without creating damage.